PhD Position in Psychology and/or Computer Science

Leuven, Louvain (BE)
09 Oct 2019
End of advertisement period
01 Nov 2019
Contract Type
Full Time


(ref. BAP-2019-633)

This interdisciplinary research will be carried out in the context of a tight collaboration between the Laboratory for Experimental Psychology of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (KU Leuven) and the EAVISE research group of the Faculty of Engineering Technology of KU Leuven at De Nayer Campus in Sint-Katelijne-Waver. The Laboratory for Experimental Psychology (LEP), Brain and Cognition Research Unit of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences focuses upon the experimental and neuroscientific investigation of different psychological functions from a multidisciplinary perspective. More specifically for the project, the psychological functions of interest are language and reasoning and their underlying representations and processes. The EAVISE (Embedded and Artificially Intelligent Vision Engineering) research group is a multidisciplinary research group that performs, among others, research on industrial applications of Artificial Intelligence technology. The group has a tight collaboration with the Declarative Languages and Artificial Intelligence (DTAI) research group, that is situated at the Heverlee Campus of KU Leuven. The proposed research will be conducted within EAVISE and LEP but may require frequent interaction with researchers from DTAI as well. The location where the research will be carried out is to be determined together with the candidate.


Bitstring semantics, which was recently developed in logic, is a formalism for exploring the meaning relations between different expressions. Because it operates in a thoroughly local fashion, this formalism is able to achieve a good balance between high expressivity and low mathematical/computational complexity. The overarching goal of the BITSHARE project is to explore new applications of bitstring semantics in other disciplines that are concerned with meaning and reasoning, viz., philosophy, linguistics, psychology and computer science. Our target applications include some of the most important research topics in these disciplines today, such as scalar implicatures, the semantics/pragmatics interface, collaborative knowledge extraction, and probabilistic causal models.Through these well-chosen target applications, the project will demonstrate that bitstring semantics offers a shared representation formalism for a broad, interdisciplinary community of reasoning researchers, in which the insights from different disciplines can be expressed and combined with each other.

In order to carry out this research, we are looking to hire a total number of four PhD students. The current PhD position is situated at the interface between computer science and psychology. Within computer science and cognitive science, the field of Knowledge Representation & Reasoning investigates how human experts can provide domain knowledge to a computer system in such a way that this knowledge can be used to solve different kinds of problems. This requires the careful design of appropriate Knowledge Representation languages. Here, a fundamental trade-off exists between expressivity of the language and its ease-of-use for the domain expert, who typically does not have a background in computer science or logic. Bitstring semantics offers an appealing setting in which to analyze this trade-off. Such an analysis will be concerned both with the formal properties of the language (a computer science perspective) and with how well it matches the way in which experts reason about their domain (a psychology perspective).


You have a Master’s degree that is relevant toward the interdisciplinary PhD position (typically: MA psychology, MSc computer science, informatics, artificial intelligence, electronics-ICT, engineering science, engineering technology). You are willing to conduct interdisciplinary research. You are fluent in English.


We offer a full-time PhD position for four years (subject to positive intermediate evaluations), situated in a stimulating scientific working environment within one of Europe's leading research universities. We offer an attractive wage and a budget for research expenses (including small equipment, travel and accommodation costs, the organisation of events).


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Joost Vennekens, tel.: +32 15 68 82 35, mail: or Prof. dr. Walter Schaeken, tel.: +32 16 32 59 68, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than November 01, 2019 via the online application tool

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